The tools, software and apps I can’t live without..

I recently stumbled across the ‘How I work’ series from Lifehacker which is a really nice profile of how people work rather than purely a profile of their career to date.

So here’s my version of sorts:

My essential hardware


I use a Macbook pro 15″. It’s now about 4 years old, and still running beautifully. I’ve purposely kept it software lite so besides OS upgrades, I have the adobe suite and Lightroom to support my photography hobby.

My phone is an HTC desire which upon hitting it’s two year birthday last October decided it would start to become a dumb phone. It will be replaced with a Nexus 4 next month.

I still use my trusty iPod classic. It’s dumb but I love it. My perfect no distractions approach to music consumption.

My 2nd gen Kindle is a constant companion. Another dumb device but that’s fine. And, the battery life is incredible. Oh and the Hard Graft case I use is beautiful.

My moleskine. It’s a bit of hardware. Just not in the tech sense. It’s my go to note taking device.

My Aeropress. Essential.

My watch. Few things are more satisfying than winding up my watch first thing in the morning and last thing night.

The apps and software I can’t live without

I use a combination of Google Chrome and Firefox depending on what I’m need the browser to do. Gmail is my go to email platform. And tweetdeck my chosen platform for managing my social profiles.

I can’t live without Evernote. It’s my tool for capturing thoughts, ideas, photo’s of whiteboard brainstorms. Everything. I also use it as my platform for my GTD process. I’ve yet to figure out a way of managing a daily to do list in Evernote that I am happy with so I use my moleskine to list out my daily priorities (5) and that days big rocks.

I use Dropbox for document sharing at work. It’s often more reliable than the office VPN, so it’s perfect for remote working. For homelife, I use Google Drive.

I like to read blog post and long form posts, but I often don’t like reading them at my desk, so I use Instapaper as my repository of articles I want to read later. Over the years it’s become an essential tool. Also by being able to sync it to my Kindle I get a daily update of recently added articles.

A couple of other tools that I find really useful are these two browser add-ons:

Awesome screenshot. The best screenshot tool I’ve ever used.

Clearly. This extension from Evernote simply clears the clutter from the web page leaving only the text/article you want to read.

What are your essential tools? What can’t you live without?

From WordPress to Posterous and back…sort of…

Two days before Christmas 2012, I removed the twitter and instagram apps from my phone. I primarily did this to get off the grid for a couple of weeks. I wanted to spend time with my friends and family, and I didn’t want nor need the distraction that both these networks provide me. Personally, I have found them to be two huge timesinks.

It’s been three weeks and I haven’t re-installed them. I don’t miss them.

So, this little exercise got me thinking about all my online profiles. So as I conducted a new year spruce, I logged into my wordpress blog and noticed that I hadn’t posted since the end of 2010. My Posterous on the other hand has been a bit more active. However, I cannot remember how or why I came to having two blog platforms. I certainly can’t remember the decision making process for deciding that this was a good idea. Anyhoop, I need to streamline my blogging *cough*Ineedtoblogmoreoften*cough* and the platforms. Thus, I’m moving back to wordpress.

I’m doing this for two reasons:

1. I use wordpress in a professional capacity and I feel more comfortable with the UI etc etc

2. The future of posterous looks a very uncertain given the twitter acquisition. (Incidently, no news is bad news) And besides, it’s become an unwieldy beast of a platform. I can no longer find my way around it with any ease or with the enjoyment that I used to.

So, here’s to a streamlined 2013.

My 2012 in music

I have spent the last couple of weeks reviewing my year in relation to the music I have been listening to. On the one hand, I found myself listening to a lot more electronic music this year than in previous years. Yet on the other hand, and rather ashamedly, I didn’t go to a single gig. 

In 2012 I discovered that, after an on/off relationship, Spotify could actually play a huge role in how I both listen to and share music. Furthermore, it made a huge impact on the music I bought. Firstly, I am buying less music on a monthly basis.

I have scaled back my emusic account and now only buy 2, sometimes 3, albums a month. This is becuase I use Spotify to act as a filter. I’ll listen to an album before buying it. I then only buy it if I know I’ll give that album the attention I think it deserves or if it really challenges me. 

So, the upside are that my wallet is happy. The downside, however, is that I am taking less risks in my music buying. I think I have played it quite safe this year. 

Listed below are my musical highlights of 2012.  

Best Album.

10. Mark Lanegan – Blues Funeral

9. John Talabot – fIN

8. DJ Food – The Search Engine

7. Flying Lotus – Until the quiet comes

6. Matthew Dear – Beams

5. Spiritualized – Sweet heart, sweet light

4. Ty Segall – Slaughterhouse

3. Grizzly Bear – Shields

2. Lotus Plaza – Spooky Action at a Distance

1. The Men – Open your heart

Honourable Mentions:

Beak>,Swans, Neil Cowley Trio, Here we Go Magic, Django, Django, Alt-J, Porcelain Raft, Dexy’s, Bo Ningen, Goat, Efterklang, Liars, Dustin Wong and Twin Shadow. 

Most disappointing album.

Tame Impala – Lonerism. I notice it is the top of many Year-End Lists but it doesn’t do anything for me. The lead single Elephant is great but the rest of the album just didn’t match it for energy and drive. 

Best Track.

10. Cocanium – Baroness

9. Fitzpleasure – Alt-J

8. Eveningness – Lotus Plaza

7. Taos – Menomena

6. Gooooo – TNGNT

5. Spitfire – Public Service Broadcasting

4. A Simple Answer – Grizzly Bear

3. Motion Sickness – Hot Chip

2. Oblivion  – Grimes

1. Hey Jane – Spiritualized

Best Soundtrack.

The Dark Knight Rises – Hans Zimmer. No shadow of a doubt. Though the soundtrack to Lawless ran it pretty close. 

A couple of EPs worth mentioning

TNGNT by TNGNT. Just hit me at the right moment in the summer. 

Silent Hour/Golden Mile by Daniel Rossen. Grizzly Bear fontman side project. 

Best Music Video. 

I’ve not watched an official music video in a long while, and if I have I certainly can’t remember it. Then Adam Buxton brought his BUG show to Brighton and he showed us this. Make of it what you will. I hope it at least brings a smile to your face.  

A list of beers I enjoyed in 2012

According to Untappd I’ve drunk 105 unique beers over the last 12 months and I would say on the most part they have been pretty good.

Here are my highlights:

  • G’Day Mate by Mikkeller.
  • Citra by Oakham Ales
  • Raid Beer by TO OI
  • Hot Rod Habanero by Mikkeller
  • Kashmir by Acorn Brewery
  • Dr Rudi by Arbor Ales
  • Smoked Black IPA by Tiny Rebel Brewing Co
  • Brewed Amakening by Cromarty Brewing Co
  • Kill Your Darlings by Thornbridge
  • Single Hop Sorachi Ace IPA by Mikkeller
  • Dalston Black IPA by Brodies
  • Milk Chocolate Stout by Dark Star

Mikkeller’s G’Day Mate was undoubtedly the best beer I had last year. An explosion of galaxy hops which literally refreshed the parts other beers couldn’t reach.

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